Photographing Flowers with my Point and Shoot Fujifilm finepix S5200

marilyn777

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This coming Sunday I'm going to be going out with some friends to photograph a site that has literally thousands of daffodils then will be going to a site that has the same amount of Trilliums blooming here in Ontario Canada. I want to get the best shots possible with my Fujifilm Finepix S5200. I've only ever used the Auto/Macro setting on my camera. But would like to branch out and use the A and S settings on my camera. What would you recommend for flowers? What F-Stops, Aperture, and ISO would work? Low ISO? F-Stop maybe F 3.2? I will be taking Macro shots (my favourite setting) as well. They are calling for sun with a little cloud here on Sunday. Do I need to use the white balance? Shutter speed? Any tips instructions would be appreciated. The photo below is one I took last year.
 

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Fujidave

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Fujidave

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If it was me, then F stop between 5.6 and F 8. Try and keep your ISO down low plus if you have a macro setting on your camera then I`d put it on that.
 

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There's really no single answers. Each photog has to assess their scene, pre-visualize what they want the viewer to see. I suggested a tripod and shutter release cable in your previous post. As far as setting for macro on a bridge camera, they vary from model to model. On my Canon SX60HS, all it did was enable a closer focus digitally but not like an independent interchangeable lens camera. It worked very well however in that mode, but was JPEG only, so using a tripod and wired shutter remote was very helpful. Even with the small sensor size of the bridge camera, the image quality was excellent because I turned off the stabilization and mounted it on a cheap, sturdy, promaster tripod. The wired shutter cable had a small 1/8 jack that fit into a port on the camera, all it did was trip the shutter. The jack is the same one you would find on headphones. If your camera has one, any remote that has that Jack should work and may be purchased locally. Or you could use the timer function on the camera as well.

As far as mode, I think you have to decide what mode works best for you and the scene, or maybe even for that camera, experimenting may be in order. My Canon worked the best in program (P) mode, it just seemed to get it right 99% of the time but I usually had to adjust the + or - EC button. I often would minus the EC (exposure compensation) on bright sunny days. This was critical when shooting in macro mode because it only produced JPEGs. I wanted to make sure the highlights weren't blown out.

Each bridge model is different. Program is mostly auto but enabled me to adjust EC, ISO, and meter mode. I almost always used spot meter when when shooting macro flowers. It controlled the exposure excellent within the subject area. However, this was for my Canon bridge camera.

You really need to start exploring your camera by using it and figuring out how it performs best. You could probably find some macro flower shots I did with that camera in the photo themes/floral thread but you may have to go back a year or more in the thread since I don't use it much anymore.
 
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marilyn777

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If it was me, then F stop between 5.6 and F 8. Try and keep your ISO down low plus if you have a macro setting on your camera then I`d put it on that.
Thank you for your reply I'll try those settings. Would I use the S, A, or M mode?
 
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marilyn777

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There's really no single answers. Each photog has to assess their scene, pre-visualize what they want the viewer to see. I suggested a tripod and shutter release cable in your previous post. As far as setting for macro on a bridge camera, they vary from model to model. On my Canon SX60HS, all it did was enable a closer focus digitally but not like an independent interchangeable lens camera. It worked very well however in that mode, but was JPEG only, so using a tripod and wired shutter remote was very helpful. Even with the small sensor size of the bridge camera, the image quality was excellent because I turned off the stabilization and mounted it on a cheap, sturdy, promaster tripod. The wired shutter cable had a small 1/8 jack that fit into a port on the camera, all it did was trip the shutter. The jack is the same one you would find on headphones. If your camera has one, any remote that has that Jack should work and may be purchased locally. Or you could use the timer function on the camera as well.

As far as mode, I think you have to decide what mode works best for you and the scene, or maybe even for that camera, experimenting may be in order. My Canon worked the best in program (P) mode, it just seemed to get it right 99% of the time but I usually had to adjust the + or - EC button. I often would minus the EC (exposure compensation) on bright sunny days. This was critical when shooting in macro mode because it only produced JPEGs. I wanted to make sure the highlights weren't blown out.

Each bridge model is different. Program is mostly auto but enabled me to adjust EC, ISO, and meter mode. I almost always used spot meter when when shooting macro flowers. It controlled the exposure excellent within the subject area. However, this was for my Canon bridge camera.

You really need to start exploring your camera by using it and figuring out how it performs best. You could probably find some macro flower shots I did with that camera in the photo themes/floral thread but you may have to go back a year or more in the thread since I don't use it much anymore.
Thanks for your reply. I'll experiment with my settings and see what happens.
 

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The lighting is quite harsh. Try and defuse it.
 

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The picture you posted is nice, when you're framing a shot I'd try to see everything in the viewfinder (the corners) to make sure what you want in your picture is placed in a nice looking way in the viewfinder. The one you posted could maybe have been shot in a bit closer so the flower filled the frame a little more.

I've never used a tripod (in 30ish years) and while that could be an option, since you'll be with friends it may not be practical since you'll most likely be walking/moving around. I'm not familiar with your camera and usually shoot all manual all(most) all the time, but I do on occasion use a p&s.

So I pulled up your camera's manual, and good grief, could they make it more complicated?? lol I skipped ahead... so far I'd say use macro if you're within several inches to a few feet away from a flower. If you want to shoot the field of flowers or part of it, turn off macro so you can get everything in focus.

Watch the aperture settings; if you're shooting across a large field you'd need more depth of field and a smaller aperture setting like f11, f16 (or even f22 if the camera has that); if it's a midrange distance f8 might work, and if you're up close you could use a larger aperture for less depth of field like f4, f2.8.

Now, let me go look at the mode settings, since I don't do modes...
 
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vintagesnaps

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What demented loony toony came up with all this?! lol Well, now I know more about bridge cameras, and settings aren't that different really from a p&s or even from any camera (except old mechanical film cameras).

Anyway, I'd probably go with A (p. 37 in the manual) because you don't particularly need a faster shutter speed, unless it's awfully breezy and the flowers would be moving. (I've done sports/hockey and for that the shutter speed would be my priority). Then in A you could set the aperture and if it's sunny, probably the camera will set to a reasonable shutter speed. If it clouds up then watch the shutter speed and make sure the camera isn't setting it too slow. Usually I'd say about 1/125 is where a camera could be hand held without getting blur; slower than that could be iffy.

I'd also watch the ISO if it gets cloudy. Usually a lower ISO like 100/200 would work outdoors; if it gets cloudy/dark & overcast enough it might be better at maybe 400 or so. Just make sure shooting the field of flowers that if you set at a smaller aperture the camera isn't setting shutter speed too slow.

Shooting in M to shoot manual could work if you know how to adjust settings yourself, but it would take some practice. To do that by Sunday might be like cramming for a test and then feeling pressured the next day! You might want to go out tomorrow and do some test shots and see how the mode setting A works for an object within a few feet and objects far away and notice how the camera adjusts other settings and see if that will work. If not I suppose going with Auto might be the most workable.
 

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I like my flower shots to be shallow dof (wide aperture) and warm (shade wb setting). JC is right though, one size does not fit all. Sometimes you want a lot of detail and other times you want something dreamy. I would experiment if I were you to try to get a couple different looks with each subject.

For fields of flowers, I think a shallow depth of field with just the front one or two flowers in focus and the rest a blurred background of multi colored bokeh is a nice look but you also want to get a Panorama of the entire field in focus if you can. Does it have a panorama setting?

If any of these flowers are tall, bring a stepladder to get a great vantage point.
 

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If it was me, then F stop between 5.6 and F 8. Try and keep your ISO down low plus if you have a macro setting on your camera then I`d put it on that.
Thank you for your reply I'll try those settings. Would I use the S, A, or M mode?

For me I shoot in full manual, and every so often I will shoot in Aperture mode.
 
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marilyn777

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Wow so much great information! The first place I'm going is a small cemetery that has literally thousands of naturalized daffodils. I've never seen anything like it. I didn't have my camera with me last Sunday when I saw it for the first time. I would like to get some macro shots, wide shots encompassing all the flowers or as much as I can get in. Close shots. A lot of different angles. My camera has an ISO range of 64 to 1600. It has A, S, M, and P no panorama but does have landscape. I've only ever used auto/macro. But would like to see what else my camera can do. I did buy my camera quite a few years ago and it has served me well I have over 3000 photos on my laptop. I can't really afford a new camera right now this one will have to do. But I would like to know what the different settings do. My favourite setting is macro I love some of the photos I've taken in it. This Sunday they are calling for sunny with a few clouds I will be going out around 11 am. The second place I'm going is deeply shaded in a woodlot shooting newly emerged Trilliums. I only get to do this one a year as they don't last very long. And I want to make the most of my time and get the best shots possible. Here are two I took last year. Thanks so much everyone for the help!
2658921750051725912PQEaqR_fs.JPG
DSCF6312.JPG
 

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You've posted twice here about the same topic and in each of your posts you've been consistent in asking about the camera's exposure controls: the f/stop, ISO, exposure modes - A, S, P, M and scene modes.

You have a very capable camera in fact and it should serve well to do what you want. Here's some help about two different topics: camera exposure and photos of flowers.

Your camera contains a digital sensor -- think solar panels just really really small. Light (photons) fall on the sensor and it responds by generating a charge (electrons). The more photons the more electrons and the stronger the charge; in other words that sensor generates a scaled response to the light striking it. This allows us to create a photograph. We read the electron charge and convert it into numbers. This is skipping a few steps and may be more than you want to know but:

trillium.jpg


when the processing work is done your photo is made up of pixels and each pixel is a set of three numbers that identify the red, green and blue values for that pixel's color. Above you see a section from your trillium photo blown way up and one of the pixels singled out with it's values in the box.

With the help of tools in the camera you need to expose the sensor to make a photograph. The trick about exposure is to get enough exposure, but not too much. The sensor has physical threshold limits that we have to respect. Your camera is equipped with a light measuring tool that you rely on to measure the brightness of whatever scene you're photographing and then adjusts or helps you adjust the camera's controls that get enough exposure and not too much.

The camera has two controls that you can adjust or that the camera software can automatically adjust for you to moderate how much light reaches the sensor based on the measurement the meter takes of the scene. Those two controls are the camera's shutter and the lens's f/stop. This is pretty straight forward: the shutter opens and closes. Closed, there is no exposure. Open, exposure begins and continues to accumulate as long as the shutter remains open. If the shutter is open a long time you can't hold the camera still and you'll get a blurry photo. The camera's viewfinder/lcd should tell you what shutter speed the camera has selected or that you have selected. Consider this table:

shutter.jpg


That's very general (there are qualifiers) but that should get you started. If your camera's information readout tells you the photo will be taken at 1/4 of a second and you're holding the camera in your hands you're going to get a very blurry photo.

In the lens is an iris just like the one in your eye and it works the same way. Fully open it allows the lens to pass as much light as possible. As the iris opening is adjusted progressively smaller less light passes through to the sensor. We assign numbers to the lens iris opening and call them f/stop numbers. Like so: f/1.8, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, etc. That's a standard scale in stop increments but the lens can be set to any value in between those numbers. e.g. f/3.3 or f/4.2. Stop increments are twice as much or half as much light. Note the shutter speed scale above; it is also in stop increments. Let's assume you had the very problem noted above and your camera was informing you that the shutter was set to 1/4th of a second. If your lens f/stop was set (for example) at f/8 you could solve the shutter problem by setting the lens to f/2 which is a 4 stop change. To maintain the exposure the camera would then adjust the shutter 4 stops to 1/60th of a second and you could take the photo (carefully).

We're able to trade off shutter speed against lens f/stop to manage the exposure. We've deliberately built our cameras so that shutter speed and f/stop values adjust the amount of light passed to the sensor by equivalent amounts. It's a juggling act because we're responsible for multiple cause/effect events simultaneously. The sensor needs enough exposure but not too much and we want to avoid blurry photos and we may also want to influence how much is in focus -- the lens iris does this as well as adjusting exposure. It's a complicated topic called (D)epth (O)f (F)ield For our purposes right now we just want to understand that if the lens iris is wide open (more exposure) less depth in the photo is in focus and if the lens iris is small (less exposure) more depth in the photo is in focus. See how we're juggling? We can juggle shutter speed (sharp/blurry) with lens f/stop (deep focus/shallow focus) but we must nonetheless always make sure the sensor gets enough exposure, but not too much.

Your camera's meter that measures light intensity in the scene is linked directly to the camera's controls -- shutter speed and f/stop, and can control them directly. That's what we mean when we talk about a camera as auto, semi-auto or manual. When you've used your camera in auto macro mode the camera took care of all the exposure controls for you. The meter measured the scene brightness and with that variable known the camera applied an algorithm to select a combination of shutter speed and f/stop that would give you a sharp photo with good focus depth. In that process although the camera can select between different combinations of shutter speed and lens f/stop what it can't do is fail this requirement: expose the sensor enough, but not too much.

Other than auto mode you have the semi-auto modes of Aperture priority, Shutter priority and Program shift. Just as with the camera working in full auto those semi-auto modes remain bound to the same overriding requirement: expose the sensor enough, but not too much. These modes are just variants on getting the same thing done. Let's say your camera on full auto selected an exposure of 1/500th of a second with the lens f/stop set to f/5.6. In (A)perture mode if you forced the f/stop to f/5.6 the camera would set the shutter to 1/500th of a second and you'd get the same exposure. A mode is just letting you lock in the f/stop if you're sure that's what you want. Likewise in (S)hutter mode if you forced the shutter to 1/500th of a second the camera would set the f/stop to f/5.6. You're being given different ways to get to the same place. Let's remind ourselves again what place is that: expose the sensor enough, but not too much. So for example if I'm photographing a soccer match with running players I may chose (S)hutter mode to make sure I'm stopping/blurring the action as I intend rather than chance it with the camera's auto algorithms.

In full manual you get to force both the shutter speed and f/stop -- the meter will still function and you can use it. Switching the camera to manual or Shutter or Aperture modes however does not in any way remove or lessen this requirement: expose the sensor enough, but not too much.

So now we need to think about that exposure requirement. Think first about the scenes you photograph and the brightness of those scenes. Consider a bright sunny day for example and your home in the evening. Consider a rainy day. Consider daffodils in the sun and trilliums in deep shade. The brightness of the various scenes you photograph is variable; in fact it changes a lot. This however does not change at all: expose the sensor enough, but not to much. In fact that's a specific quantity of light X that for the sensor in your camera is fixed and immutable. No matter how bright or dim the scene is you're photographing the camera's job is to measure that brightness and then calculate the shutter speed and f/stop combination that will produce quantity of light X so the sensor will be exposed enough, but not too much. For however many photos over however many years the sensor always needs the same amount of exposure.

How does the camera know exactly how much exposure the sensor requires? We use the ISO value. The lowest ISO value on your camera specifies the amount of exposure for the sensor that's enough, but not too much. So why is there more than one ISO value? Because you can't always get what you want. And so when circumstance dictates that indoors for example with the ISO set to 64 and the lens f/stop as wide as it can get at f/3.2 you need a shutter speed of 1/8th second to expose the sensor you're screwed if you're hand-holding the camera. Assume you need at least 1/30th of a second shutter speed to take the photo. If you make that exposure, 1/30th of a second at f/3.2, you will fail this fundamental requirement: expose the sensor enough, but not too much -- that's a crash and burn. So when we can't get what we want we make do. Raise the ISO value on the camera to 200 and the camera will recalculate the exposure as 1/30th of a second at f/3.2. By raising the ISO value you told the meter to recalculate a reduced exposure. Take the photo. The sensor does not get enough exposure but we have a patch of sorts. The processing software in your camera that creates the final photo will know about the ISO value and compensate for the loss of exposure by brighten the image in software. Some quality loss must occur but in the early stage of this process it's not too bad. Your camera's ISO values top out at 1600, by then the quality loss is pretty bad. BUT a photo is better than no photo.

What should you do specifically.

Put the camera into the auto macro mode and set the ISO to auto. Start paying attention to the settings the camera selects when you take photos. Ask yourself if the camera is making the best decision and see if you can't do better. For example is the camera raising the ISO value above 64 and also setting pretty fast shutter speeds? Could you use a shutter speed lower and reduce the ISO? Then try and hard-set the ISO and see what happens. Think if you could benefit from having the shutter speed or f/stop locked down. If not then there's no reason not to let the camera select both, but pay attention to what values it does select and sign off on those -- you're responsible.

Find this control on your camera: +/- It's typically a small button diagonally split into black/white with plus and minus signs. Learn to use it. It will lower or raise the exposure in 1/3 stop increments. The camera meter will not always measure the brightness of the scene to best advantage because the meter does not know if the scene is predominately light or dark -- it assumes an average. Take the same photo 3 times: +.3, 0, -.3 and compare them latter to see the difference. This can be a useful tool.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So I photograph a lot of flowers and plants. My wife is a botanist and I've been following her around for nearly 40 years with my camera. The first thing I learned was that there's a difference between pretty pictures and useful pictures. Unfortunately I've been trained to take useful pictures. Here's a useful picture of the first trillium that blooms in our area, it's called a wake robin:

wake_robin.jpg


Useful = show the stem, show the leaves and show the environment. To do that I used a macro zoom lens at the wide end of the zoom range. This next photo is less useful and I do get scolded but this also illustrates a tip:

trillium_white.jpg


Trilliums tend to hang down. Very hard then to photograph the flowers unless you prop them up. I have a stick pushed into the ground and pushing back the stem of the flower to lift the blossom up. Don't pull them out of the ground (boy did I catch hell for that once) but feel free to both groom the background and prop and support the flower stems. The background is blurrier in this photo because I have both gotten closer and zoomed the lens to a mid-focal length.

honeysuckle_waltz.jpg


Shade and overcast light is going to be easier and for the most part produce your better photos. Pay attention to the background. I did not find that background as you see it here. It has been arranged and groomed even though I found the honeysuckle growing wild. An obtrusive, too light, wrong color background can ruin the photo.

Shade and overcast is easier but don't shy away from direct sun. Flowers can work really well in direct sun if you can bring together both transparent flower petals backlit against a shaded background.

hollyhocks_pink.jpg


Even direct sun on the flower will work sometimes especially if you can control the light on the background. This works because the direct sun is only on the flower.

last_rose.jpg


Joe
 
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marilyn777

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Sorry, everyone for posting twice about this it was not my intention to do that. I'm really new at forums and was feeling overwhelmed with all the information I was receiving by googling and Youtube videos. I'm a complete newbie at settings on my camera and trying to understand what they do. I've always shot in auto. I guess the only way to learn is to just try different settings and see what I come up with. With digital, it can always be deleted. Not like film used to be. For the past year, I have been losing my eyesight I just thought I needed stronger glasses but was diagnosed with Cataracts before Christmas. On the 23rd of December I completely lost my eyesight I woke up and could only see shadows. It terrified me. But after going to emerg I was put on the cancellation list for cataract surgery. Long story short I've now had both eyes done and for the first time in several years, I can see perfectly clear it's been a joy to finally see nature around so clearly and I can't wait to photograph it. It excites me to take pictures of nature. And it's like Christmas morning when I download them to my laptop to see what I've captured. I will never take my eyesight for granted ever again! After having lost it completely for a couple months it's now a pleasure to go outside again. Having clear eyesight now has given me the incentive to take better photos now that I can see what I'm doing. Thanks for everyone's comments, tips and instructions. This Sunday when I go out I will do the best I can and with your tips and see what I get. If you want I can delete the other thread I made and stick with this one. Here is a photo I took a few years ago at a roadside fruit stand I used auto/macro and was happy with the results.
6 Assorted Flowers.jpg
 

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